SharePoint Conference was a very busy time for us. We were finally able to pull back the curtain on many of the capability areas of 2010, and for a lot of folks, this was the first opportunity to see what all the excitement is about. There is a lot of buzz about Office and SharePoint 2010, but there are some important developer capabilities that are worth paying attention to. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the more interesting "sleeper" areas that we discussed in detail at the show, and point you at more information on those.
Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)Speculation regarding the future of VBA has been a topic of conversation for quite a while. This is a sensitive area for us – there are millions upon millions of VBA coders in the world. A quick analysis of file types on Google search (where we can distinctly identify the differences between macro-enabled and non-macro-enabled documents) shows us that ~4% of Open XML documents for Excel indexed on Google are Macro enabled. Multiply that out to the billions of Office documents that exist, and you get the idea of the value that VBA has to the Office user community.
To cast aside any doubt – VBA is supported in Office 2010. In fact it has been upgraded to support the new, native 64-bit client version of Office. VBA remains a powerful tool in automating Office, and Alt-F11 remains the coding experience of choice for many people. To cast aside any speculation – we love VBA. We encourage you to use VBA, and VBA is a viable and important part of our product. John Durant has an excellent post – "Why VBA still makes sense." It is very much worth reading.
InfoPath 2010 and InfoPath Forms ServicesForms capability in Office and SharePoint is maturing rapidly. With the inclusion of BCS in SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010, InfoPath becomes even more powerful as a tool for aggregating, presenting and gathering information. Why? – People are now discovering how easy it is to bind BCS entities to a SharePoint list, and then present that list data to users in a rich InfoPath form. Because InfoPath does a great job of making complex data interaction simple for end users, it is becoming a critical component of LOB solutions managed in the SharePoint environment. Surfacing InfoPath solutions via the browser, InfoPath mobile forms, through Outlook, SharePoint Workspace or other interfaces makes the rich InfoPath experience portable and flexible. People on the floor certainly responded positively; InfoPath was a smashing success. Visit the InfoPath team blog to read about some of the solutions they were previewing. Below is an excerpt from the post:
Demo 3: Office Business Applications: Procurement scenarioIn this final demo, Peter and Bojana showed the audience how InfoPath helps IT departments develop full Office Business Applications on the SharePoint platform. They used a procurement scenario to demo these capabilities. In this scenario, an employee submits a request to purchase a new laptop computer. The solution used an InfoPath form that connects to a vendor database, that brings in details about the goods you can purchase.
Access 2010 and Access ServicesAccess 2010 and Access Services take a very powerful product and make it stronger. Imagine the ability to design a tracking application in Access, and then the ability to surface that Access application via SharePoint and the browser. A lot of people are observing the type of capability enabled by Access Services, and like this blogger, finding that Access 2010 is worth a look.
At about 9:00 of the embedded video another great new feature of Access 2010 is highlighted – a visual Macro designer.
Business Connectivity Services (BCS)SharePoint veterans will appreciate BCS as the "read/write implementation of BDC." For the rest of us, BCS is a way to define, store and manage line of business connectivity through SharePoint. BCS is accompanied by a client-side runtime that ALSO allows you to push and cache the results of the BCS connections to the client. This makes it much easier to surface LOB data in Office client applications. The BCS team blog can get you up to speed quickly on how BCS works and describe some of the scenarios that are aided by BCS.
Word Services of SharePoint 2010Probably my favorite feature of SharePoint 2010 is what we call Word Services. In the past, we've seen many developers who install Office on a server and write VBA for Office to automate things like Open/Save operations. With SharePoint 2010, the introduction of Word Services gets us out of jail on that… instead of scriping the client app, we now offer essentially a "file save as" on the server side, without requiring the client user interface. This makes for a much more robust environment for doing batch document conversions. All file formats written in the client version are supported, and because of this, we now offer bulk conversion to PDF in SharePoint 2010. The Word Team blog has plenty of great details on Word Services. When combined with the Open XML SDK, this new capability opens endless possibilities for processing documents.
There is so much to discuss for Office 2010. Over the next two or three months, we'll drill into the details on several areas. The next post will drill on the Office Environment Assessment tools and the Application Compatibility Program we announced last week.
Update: If you would like to sign up for the beta program for the tools, please email the following alias. mailto:OFAPPCPT@Microsoft.com
Update: Read more details about the tools in these two subsequent posts:
Hello, my name is Michael Kiselman, I am a technical product manager driving Office 2010 application compatibility program on Office developer marketing team. I’d like to share our exciting news about application compatibility we’re unveiling today at the SharePoint Conference.
With the great value Office 2010 brings for end users, IT Professionals and Developers, we are also investing heavily in making deployment of the new version of Office easier. As part of our focus on deployment, we have renewed priority on helping ensure applications and Add-ins for existing installations of Office continue to work without hangs, crashed or performance degradation when interfacing with Office 2010.
IT departments charged with upgrading Office take special care to find the add-ins, macros and other 3d party applications users have installed to ensure they will not cause problems after the upgrade is complete. Developers (professional and non-professional dealing with macros and scripts in Office applications), on the other hand, spend time testing and migrating their code to work seamlessly in Office 2010. And then, there is a task of migrating Pre Office 2007 binary documents to the latest Open XML format based files.
Today we are announcing the Office 2010 Compatibility Program to help address these areas. The compatibility program will provide tools for environment assessment, code scanning and remediation assistance, and an update to the document conversion tools introduced with Office 2007. The tools, guidance and services we are delivering will be the most comprehensive we have provided to date for a new release of Office.
The Application Compatibility program will be delivered in the form of tools, guidance and programs.
Office Environment Assessment Tool (OEAT) and Code Compatibility Inspector are new tools that will be made available to assess the current state of desktop installations, and to scan code for potential issues. We will also update the Office Migration Planning Manager for Office 2010. Comprehensive guidance in a form of an Application Compatibility Analysis and remediation guide will be offered as well on TechNet and MSDN.
Figure 1: Office Environment Assessment Tool
We can share a little about the new tools we are building to give you an idea of where we’ll provide help.
Office Environment Assessment Tool:
· Discovers currently installed applications
· Discovers Add-ins currently in use by Office clients
· Discovers Programs that are not registered as Add-ins but still interact with Office programs
· Environmental assessment (potential upgrade issues)
· Add-in compatibility assessment – relates information about the program’s compatibility with Office 2010 from the TechNet site.
Code Compatibility Inspector:
· Scans Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) Solutions for potential issues
· Scans Visual Studio Office projects for potential issues
· Performs a simple text search (likely candidate search) for known properties and methods in the Office Object Model that changed
· Provides the option to comment/mark those areas in the code where text search has identified a possible OM match
· Summary of total lines of code scanned as well as total lines identified as potential candidates for OM changes
· A detailed report, with module name, line number, and links to remediation for each issue found with possibly a red/yellow flag for impact guidance
· Scans and optionally updates Declare statements for 64-bit compatibility
Figure 2: Inspecting VBA projects with the Code Compatibility Inspector
Want to get involved?
The beta of the tools and the draft of the Assessment and Remediation Guide will be available for customers and partners on Microsoft.com download center by early December. We will update this blog when they become available.
These tools and guidance will be available to our customers and partners through a variety of services like Desktop Deployment Planning Services for partners or a Deployment Optimization of Windows and Office MCS Offers. The tools and guidance will be available in virtually all of our deployment planning activities, look for them to land in a program near you.
Along with the tools, guidance and programs, we will also launch a partner program to provide an opportunity for Microsoft partners to pledge the compatibility of their products with Office 2010 and enlist the product on the upcoming Office 2010 Application Compatibility Center on TechNet. Some of you may have noticed the re-designed Office developer center on MSDN, we’ll continue to add to that with our compatibility activities.
SharePoint conference is just a few days away. We are thrilled that in an era of shrinking shows and budgets, we're able to have a sold out conference dedicated to learning about Office and SharePoint 2010. It will be an exciting week.
A positive trend in Office development is the migration of solutions away from in-application scripted processing toward more data-centric development. Of course this is a primary purpose of Open XML, and it is great to see the amount of activity in this area. We've seen customers scripting Word in a server environment to batch process / print documents or for other automation tasks. In reality Word isn't built to do that on a large scale, it is better to work directly against the document rather than via the application whenever possible.
The Open XML SDK unlocks a "whole nuther" environment for document processing, and gets you out of the business of scripting client apps on servers to do the work of a true server application (not to mention the licensing problems created by installing Office on a server). We'll have the Open XML SDK in many sessions at the show.
I am also very excited about the Application Compatibility Program for Office 2010, and in the next post on this blog, we'll go into deep detail about what we're planning for the 2010 release. App compat is a very important area for our customers, ensuring solutions can be easily migrated between versions of Office will help those IT's & Devs charged with migrating masses of desktops to a new version. – this should be easier than ever with 2010 if we've done our job correctly. (Hint: If you'd like a sneak peek at one of the new app compat tools we're planning, hop onto connect and give this a test drive.)
You'll see these stickers about. Intergen is sponsoring a promotion for OpenXMLDeveloper.org at the show. Be sure to get your sticker from them as you see them around.
In terms of Open XML session content, there's plenty to enjoy. I'm adding a sample of the sessions from the show. Some sessions have an explicit focus on Open XML, but Open XML is present in most of them for various reasons.
Overview of the SharePoint 2010 Developer Platform
What's New in Office 2010 for Developers
Overview of Visio Services 2010
What's new in Office 2010? (Overview)
Report on SharePoint data with Access 2010
Building Applications on SharePoint with Access Services
Building OBAs using Business Connectivity Services and SharePoint Designer
SharePoint 2010 Based Document Assembly and Manipulation
Understanding Office 2010 and the Office Web Apps
Deep Dive Open XML and the Open XML SDK
Office 2007 vs. Office 2010 - Deployment Considerations
Co-authoring with Office 2010 and the Office Web Apps
Creating Office 2010 Add-Ins using SharePoint as a Data Source
Office Web Apps – Deployment and Manageability
UI Extensibility and Customization in Office 2010 Applications
Develop Advanced Access Web Databases & Publish to SharePoint
SharePoint Workspace 2010: the Microsoft Office Client for Team Sites
Creating OBA Solutions with Business Connectivity Services (BCS)
Managing Access Databases in Your Organization
Open XML Development for Office 2010 and Beyond
Visual Studio 2010 Tools for Office Development
Access Services: Under the Hood
Leveraging Excel Services in Office 2010 Client and Windows
Office 2010 Client Security
Office 2010 Application and Feature Compatibility
Form-driven Mashups Using InfoPath and Forms Services 2010
InfoPath 2010: Form Design Best Practices
There is so much for us to share at SPC. If you are planning to attend, please stop by our booth(s) and say hello. For those not attending, we'll do our best to share that information on my blog and across MSDN, Channel 9 and more.